Willy Moon Album: Here’s Willy Moon

Martha Stewart is my hero. You could say that Martha Stewart is the next “come-back kid.” With books, clothing and merchandise deals in the works, there seems like there’s no stopping this domestic queen. Many have said Martha is having the last laugh and I agree.

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3 and half Stars

-Samantha Pannier-

Gentlemen, your reply to the R&B revival in the vein of Duffy, Emeli Sandé and Amy Winehouse is here and his name is Willy Moon. Though the young Kiwi’s album was released in early April, only now are American record stores starting to catch wind of the 23-year-old, and damn if it doesn’t sound good. After his very first single “Yeah Yeah” landed the coveted Apple iPod advertisement spot in October of last year, Moon has steadily been releasing solid single after solid single. The album’s greatest strength is found both in the hyper-stylization and control which are at compelling odds with its bluesy heart.

There is a schizophrenic quality to Here’s Willy Moon. It can be celebratory and downright cheerful as in “My Girl” then mournful and bitter in “Working for the Company.” Moon would also be better off without overuse of vocal distortion, which loses its charm around the fourth track in.  I never thought I’d say this, but he could take a note from Michael Bublé in terms of purity.

Moon is at his best when he doesn’t cling too hard to his Elvis roots and lets them shine through on their own as in “My Girl.” Moon isn’t a one-trick-living-in-the-past pony though; listen for the well taken sample from Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” below

Thematically is where Here’s Willy Moon really departs from the stylings of Sandé and her contemporaries: the album has a decidedly darker tinge. Moon is at his angstiest in his true-to-the-original cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” and it all culminates in the uncomfortable final track “Murder Ballad,” an instrumental that sounds straight out of a James Bond film.

Despite its 12 track listing it’s a short album, packing only 29 minutes in all which makes the deluxe edition’s bonus tracks “Shakin’ All Over” and “Bang Bang” all the more worth it.  Yet its two shortest songs “I Wanna Be Your Man” and “She Loves Me” are by far the standouts, with which foot-tapping and general grooving comes included.

It’s a strong debut for Moon, hit and miss at times but full of promise. The next round will be watch-worthy and—let’s pray—unencumbered by covers.